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Though I still do not have a subscription to the WWE Network, I have watched enough WWE programming in the past year to know what excites me and what does not. In many ways, this ‘new era’ with the branded Raw and Smackdown rosters has made the product more exciting than past years. Unfortunately, many current talents are either poorly booked by management, get called up to the main roster not prepared for prime time, or are just simply collecting a paycheck. It did not take me too long to come up with a list of names that fit such categories. And here we go:
10) David Otunga
The first generation NXT rookie entered the scene with all the hype in the world. Good looks, impressive physique, and a cocky attitude that probably made some people think he was the second coming of The Rock. It also helped for a fact that he’s married to Oscar winning actress/singer Jennifer Hudson. All this went down in 2010. Seven years have passed and what has Otunga’s hype proven? Nothing. After a year long run with the Nexus stable and winning the Tag Team titles with Curtis Axel, creative had zero ideas as to what to do with him. One minute he’s John Laurinaitis’ legal advisor on Raw and the next minute he’s working forgettable matches. Then the company takes him off TV while he serves as a legal talking head on CNN before WWE makes him part of the Smackdown announce team. He adds nothing to commentary and gives off the worse shit-eating grins on camera. Why he still gets paid by this company has more to do with his marriage than his talents which he has none. Spring clean this fool back to the legal world where he belongs.
9) The Ascension
Konnor and Victor had a Road Warriors/Demolition hybrid look and attitude that should have made them get over very quickly. I remember hearing so much about their potential from commentators who watched them wrestle on NXT. But WWE decided to let them not only admit to being knock-offs of those past teams but also trashed them on the mic. Once teams like the APA and the New Age Outlaws jumped them on Raw weeks into their 2014 debut, Ascension has been as lost as Glacier in WCW. When the roster split resulted in the team going to Smackdown, their luck had still not changed. It may be time for a split of the duo and a gimmick change along with it.
8) Bo Dallas
Cashing in on the successes of Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin, WWE thought they could spoof these one hit wonders in the sports world by having Bray Wyatt’s mildly talented brother treat every victory like it was a big title win. The Bo-Lieve act was cool for a while and he went on a lengthy winning streak. Then a foot injury killed any momentum he had as a potential top heel. Since then, Bo has been lost in the shuffle from being part of the short-lived Social Outcasts faction to his more aggressive heel persona where he feuded with former partner and fellow mishandled superstar Curtis Axel. Personally, it’s not too late to save Bo. There’s got to be some money in a new gimmick to unite with his fellow brother who currently holds the WWE title. Grow a beard and buy some Salvation Army clothes and he’s in the family.
7) Titus O’Neil
Two things saved Titus from getting fired early on: His partnership with Darren Young as The Prime Times Players and just simply being a nice guy behind the scenes. He was rewarded the Tag Team titles as a result. Then came the “ladies first” incident with Vince McMahon following Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech which led to a 2 month suspension. When he came back, management had no clue what to do with him. He feuded with his former partner and later failed in an attempt to join The New Day. Fans have also mocked his lack of mic skills which he has botched from time to time. No clue how to fix him.
6) Dana Brooke
The ex-fitness model was not ready for prime time since day one. Initially brought in as Emma’s bodyguard, the angle was dropped following Emma’s house show injury which took her out for a year. So the company puts her with Charlotte Flair and makes her the female equivalent of Arn Anderson minus the charisma. She’s been dangerous in the ring because of her lack of experience and her character is just way below the intelligence level of most WWE fans. It’s a sad shame she got thrown into the fire so quickly into her run. I don’t see much improvement going forward.
A ridiculously talented luchadore. Fills the void left by Rey Mysterio so easily. These days, however, he’s just a punching bag for bigger guys. The upside is limited.
4) The Vaudevillians
As a movie fan, I have a soft spot for Aiden English and Simon Gotch. They remind me of the old school tag teams from the 70s and 80s as a big time throwback to the golden age of wrestling. That’s why it pains me to say the act just is not getting taken seriously in 2017. As tough as they are, they have never been booked as a serious threat to anyone since they were called up to the main roster. For some reason, I feel like a babyface turn to align with Jack Gallagher might be an unlikely saving grace for these guys.
Everything I see about this guy reminds me of how The Rock got started as Rocky Mavia in 1996. Both of them are gifted athletes in the ring and smile a lot. They are also too squeaky clean for fans who love to boo the crap out of them. You know there’s a problem when not only are superstars botching his name by calling him Apollo Creed but also when fans cheer after taking several chair shots by Dolph Ziggler. Crews still has potential to go far because of his past work with Dragon Gate USA. All he needs to do is channel the kind of NSFW persona that he used to display on Twitter.
2) Roman Reigns
We’ve talked to death about Reigns and John Cena in past blogs to the point where I could put together a greatest hits album here on CosBlog. It should be painfully obvious why he made the list. That is why I say if he works with Undertaker at Wrestlemania, he must go in as a heel. Fans are not going to turn away from the legendary dead man to side with the Roman Empire when he happens to not be the most exciting thing on TV every week. Sure he can work a great match with Kevin Owens every now and then. But he’s still missing some it-factor to break past the hate. He may need to embrace it all the way and become an unpleasant son-of-a-bitch heel that everyone can adore. Surprisingly, he did not make number one on the list. That honor goes to a real diamond in the rough.
1) Cesaro (aka Very Mysterious Ice Cream)
Nevermind his lack of mic skills. Cesaro is a STAR. He possesses a rare kind of in-ring talent that you rarely see from anyone these days. He has the combination of strength and agility that has won over fans for many years now. Everybody wants him to become a main eventer. Sadly, his lack of promo skills and poor booking has held him back. From aligning with Paul Heyman to his current tag team run with Sheamus, Cesaro is always being booked to tease us into believing he’ll make a career breakthrough, but ends up back in the bottom of the pile. You can sense his frustration in promos sometimes. He deserves better than this crap he’s in right now. Break off from Sheamus, put him on Smackdown and make him a pure main eventer. Then he will never fall into the trap of becoming… another Curtis Axel.